Credit Speaker Brendan Sharkey of the state House of Representatives for taking quick and appropriate action to mitigate damage to the legislature's image from another lawmaker's alleged misdeeds.
It's just too bad that the lawmaker in question — first-term state Rep. Christina Ayala of Bridgeport — did not volunteer to step aside while serious allegations against her are being investigated and possibly prosecuted.
The legislature doesn't need the stigma of a scandal-tinged politician hanging around — another ethical/legal dust-up on top of the scandal that played out in the past year and a half involving illegal fund-raising by former Speaker Chris Donovan's congressional campaign operatives.
Mr. Sharkey removed Ms. Ayala from three committee assignments — appropriations, housing and children's — after the State Elections Enforcement Commission referred her to state's attorneys for possible prosecution.
The SEEC found five possible criminal charges, including felonies involving fabrication of evidence and fraud. Her troubles stem from an investigation by Hearst Connecticut newspapers that determined that Ms. Ayala, a Democrat, lived outside her district and that she had concocted a false address when she lived elsewhere.
"There is evidence that she ran for elected office twice from this false address, including for the office she currently holds," says an SEEC report, adding, "There is evidence that she also applied for funds from the Citizens Election Program using this false address. Additionally, the investigation revealed evidence that Rep. Ayala fabricated evidence in response to this investigation with the intent of misleading commission staff."
The commission also found that Ms. Ayala voted in nine different elections using that address, although she lived elsewhere.
These would be, if true, serious violations that mock our democracy's rules.
Sadly, this is not an anomaly.
The SEEC also recommended that Ms. Ayala's mother, Santa Ayala, Bridgeport's Democratic registrar of voters, be criminally investigated for allowing her daughter to use the false address.
And former state Sen. Ernie Newton of Bridgeport, who had already served nearly five years in prison for corruption, was arrested again in January on a couple of felony counts and five counts of illegal campaign practices in a primary race the preceding August.
What's the matter with Bridgeport?